Scratch Mixer Basics

Really simplistically speaking, at least regarding turntablism, the mixer is mainly used to turn the sound on and off. You can achieve this by using different faders or switches. Since most of the scratching techniques (link here) involve x-fader action, I will discuss the x-fader here.

X-fader use in scratching

A lot of scratches need the x-fader to be moved back and forth over the cut-in point. The sound goes on and off. This is true for Hamster as well as normal-style scratching. The hand you use to move the x-fader is commonly referred to as the fader-hand. Because the distance the x-fader has to travel back and forth is relatively small, it is obvious that you shouldn’t move your whole arm. For this wears out your arm-muscles pretty quickly. A technique adopted by many turntablist is the pinching technique.

Pinching technique

Position your thumb on one end of the fader and your fingers on the other end. Now you ‘pinch’ the fader between your fingers and thumb. This allows you to move the fader by flicking your wrist. At first this might feel awkward and maybe it doesn’t go that fast at all. This is because the muscles that move your wrist are normally not used to moving fast. This x-fader technique is called ‘pinching’-style.

Whether you pinch the fader with all of your fingers or just a few doesn’t matter, as long as you are able to direct your wrist movement to your fader. Don’t focus to much on the pinching, it’s ok if your fingers and thumb loose contact with the fader. The key thing to keep in mind is that your thumb and fingers should work together. Depending on the scratch-style you adopted you’ll flick your wrist in the other direction to create silences, or ‘clicks‘, with your fader.

If you want your x-fader skills to progress you should bare in mind that the trick to fast muscle movement is relaxation as opposed to tensioning. Try to use short burst of muscle movement to control the fader and let your wrist relax in between. This allows you to move the x-fader at greater speeds for a prolonged period of time.

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